FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2014
Contact: Bing Cardenas Branigin
A ‘Full-Court Press’ on TPS
FALDEF, NAFFAA & USPGG Leaders meet with
Homeland Security officials
Washington, D.C – Mounting a ‘full court press’ for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Filipino nationals, leaders of the Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund (FALDEF), NAFFAA and US Pinoys for Good Governance (USPGG) recently met with Rob Silver, Legal Counsel for Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Mayorkas was formerly Director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
DHS Legal Counsel Rob Silver (left) responds to Loida Lewis and JT Mallonga who urged DHS to grant TPS to Filipino nationals.
The meeting, which took place at the DHS main headquarters in Washington, D.C., followed an earlier meeting with Department of State officials responsible for presenting arguments for TPS to Secretary John Kerry. Filipino American leaders engaged top level staff representing the Office of International Migration, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, which play a key role in the approval of TPS.
“It’s been three months since Typhoon Haiyan and we’re still waiting for the U.S. government to act on what is clearly a humanitarian crisis,” says FALDEF President JT Mallonga, who led the delegation to DHS. “That’s why we’re mounting a full-court press because time is of the essence.” Joining Mallonga at the meeting were Loida Nicolas Lewis and Angie Cruz of USPGG, and Jon Melegrito of NaFFAA.
FALDEF President JT Mallonga presents a copy of “Memorandum of Law” regarding TPS to
DHS Legal Counsel Rob Silver (left) while Loida Lewis looks on.
Although the Federal government shut down because of a snowstorm, the meeting at DHS went through. “We are eager to listen to what you have to say,” said Silver, who commended Cruz, Lewis and Mallonga for traveling all the way from New York during stormy weather. “We at DHS are completely aware of the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda and its impact on Filipinos here in U.S. That’s why we immediately issued immigration relief measures to ease their plight.” On November 15, a week after Typhoon Haiyan hit Central Philippines, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued reminders to Filipino nationals that they may be eligible to benefit from such measures as change or extension of nonimmigrant status.
“We appreciate these relief measures,” Lewis told Silver. “But TPS is urgently needed now and I hope you will convey this to Secretary Johnson.” Lewis also underscored the importance of the issue to US-Philippine relations. “I am sure President Obama would like to see this matter resolved when he visits the Philippines in April. A denial of TPS would have serious repercussions.”
Mallonga, who prepared an 8-page “Memorandum of Law,” presented a copy to Silver at the meeting. “TPS is mainly a humanitarian relief,” Mallonga argued. “In the case of the Philippines, Haiyan poses a threat or danger to many Filipinos’ lives. Factors such as displacement, deprivation, extreme poverty and violence brought on by Typhoon Haiyan warrant a humanitarian response from the United States.”
FALDEF, NAFFAA and USPGG are part of a nationwide campaign, led by Relief 2 Recovery, a coalition of more than 100 civic and faith-based organizations and labor unions. In the last three weeks, leaders and activists have barraged the White House, DHS, DOS and congressional offices with letters, e-mails, phone calls, faxes and personal visits. They have also resorted to social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to mobilize mass action across the country. It’s organizing efforts have successfully enlisted the support of nearly 100 US Senators and Representatives from both parties. The Philippine Government has also weighed in, officially requesting DHS to grant TPS.
DHS Legal Counsel Rob Silver (center) met with Fil-Am leaders (from left) Angie Cruz, Jon Melegrito, Loida Lewis and JT Mallonga at the DHS headquarters in Washington DC on Feb. 13.
In the meantime, DHS has has announced that the week of Feb 24-28 will be a period of public engagement around TPS for the Philippines. Through a tele-conference, DHS officials will provide background information, field questions and gather feedback.
“As a community, we can not let up on our efforts now,” says Lewis. “We have to keep calling DHS and urge them to act expeditiously and favorably on this urgent matter.”
The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) is a non-profit, non-partisan tax-exempt organization established in 1997 to promote the active participation of Filipino Americans in civic and national affairs. NaFFAA is the largest national affiliation of Filipino American institutions, organizations and individuals. Its thirteen-member regions cover the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, the Marianas Islands, and American Samoa. NaFFAA partners with local affiliate organizations and national coalitions in monitoring legislation and public policy issues affecting Filipino Americans and advocating for issues of common concern.
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